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Why Hackers Often Target Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

hackers
05.20.20
John Lovegrove

Although big organizations are the ones that typically make the headlines when it comes to cyber-attacks, small businesses are, in fact, more likely to become a victim. Nowadays, hackers are targeting small and medium-sized companies more frequently than ever before, so these organizations must take their cybersecurity seriously.

In this post, we will discuss some of the reasons why hackers often target smaller businesses and what they can do to defend and protect themselves against these cybercriminals.

Reasons Small and Medium-Sized Companies Are Attractive to Hackers

smbs

Credit: Emko Capital

Cyber-criminals are interested in obtaining all kinds of confidential company information, personal data, and credit card details. Hackers don’t care where or how they get what they want, just that they can get it. So, they’ll try to exploit any weakness or opportunity that they can find.

Therefore, unless you take active measures to stop cybercriminals in their tracks, chances remain high that your organization will end up targeted. Here are some of the reasons why.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Have Limited Resources

Larger organizations typically have the financial means to make sizable investments in their cybersecurity measures. In contrast, small and medium-sized businesses usually lack the funds necessary to establish advanced security protocols, nor do they have a dedicated IT team in place.

Often, they depend on the limited experience and expertise of a staff member to keep their data and information protected. This reliance and a false sense of confidence can prove detrimental, leading to unexpected security breaches.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Have Valuable Data

Many companies feel that they don’t have enough valuable data that would entice a cyber-criminal. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you take payments for your products or services, you have your customers’ credit card details.

Even your employee records with their personal information are attractive to hackers since they could sell that data on the black market for a profit.

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Are More Vulnerable and Naïve

Hackers will look for the path of least resistance to get to the information they want. Typically, small and medium-sized businesses’ employees are more trusting, so they are more likely to fall victim to scams like spear phishing.

Cyber-criminals often try to exploit vulnerabilities by posing as authority figures within your organization to obtain network access or acquire credentials.

Best Ways for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses to Defend against Cyber-Attacks

protect smbs against hackers

Credit: Dell Technologies

Small and medium-sized businesses must stay vigilant and proactive to protect themselves against cybercriminals. Plus, they need to stay educated and informed on the latest cyber threats and crimes happening around the world, so that they don’t unintentionally become a victim too.

Below are some helpful ways that small and medium-sized businesses can defend against cyber-attacks.

Stay Aware of Any Possible Internal Threats

Company employees and insiders initiate many cyber-attacks. Therefore, it is a good idea to build up your internal protocols, increase your authorization requirements, and routinely monitor your employees that have access to your confidential and secure data.

This way, you’ll hopefully thwart some potential hacks and security breaches before they even happen.

Invest in Secure Methods of Communication

If your employees use mobile devices for accessing their work accounts, you must restrict the data and information these devices can access if you want to stay protected.

Plus, you should also enforce strict policies on when company devices can be taken home. It may also be necessary to establish specific protocols for when IT can and will wipe devices clean.

Have a Cybersecurity Partner

Since hackers are always looking for the least protected victim, make sure you aren’t one of them. Consider partnering with a professional firm that can assess your digital risk. Typically, these firms use vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and other measures to look for any security gaps within your current systems.

Then, if any issues are uncovered, you can fix them immediately before they escalate into significant problems. Purchasing cyber insurance is also an excellent way to keep your company protected.

Consistently Provide Training

Providing your employees with thorough, detailed, and ongoing training regarding proper security practices can make a big difference in whether you fall victim to a cyber-attack or not. For example, many data breaches occur in small and medium-sized businesses because employees unknowingly downloaded malicious files that were disguised as legitimate links.

Therefore, continuously educating your employees on how to distinguish between fake and real content and communications can help keep your information safe.

Install, Use, and Update Anti-virus Hardware and Software

Cybercriminals can swiftly take advantage of any holes they discover in your cybersecurity. Too often, small and medium-sized businesses forget or fail to update their security software programs when they need to, opening a prime opportunity for hackers.

So, be sure to stay on top of when your anti-virus software requires updating. You can also set it up to automatically update so that you don’t have to think about it. Additionally, to further protect your company, install (and test) a firewall and have each of your files scanned for viruses before they can be downloaded.

Back-Up Critical Data

In addition to implementing proactive security protocols, regularly backing up your information and data is a good idea just in case a cyber-criminal attacks you. Often, hackers try to hold your sensitive information “hostage,” but you can regain control if you have your critical info safely secured in another location (like a cloud server).

Security threats are growing, and no company is immune to a cyber-attack. Therefore, you need to ensure that you make your company’s cyber-security a priority since cyber-criminals will continuously try to target and exploit small and medium-sized businesses.

Don’t make it easy for hackers to find ways to attack your company! By keeping a watchful eye, heading the advice listed in this article, and taking the appropriate measures to protect and defend yourself, your company is less likely to become a victim. Doing all you can now to prevent a cyber-attack from occurring in the first place could save your business a lot of money and time down the road.

Main Photo Credit: Entech

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